Review: Lewis Charlesworth’s Comedy Circus

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This debut show, ‘Comedy Circus’, didn’t get off to the best start: we turned up to the Storey Gallery ready for the 8 o’clock start. The doors weren’t open, there were only about five other people waiting in the bar, and the performers were rushing around madly. Eventually, everyone was relieved when the metaphorical curtains opened at 8:20 and the show began. We applauded our compere onto the stage. He was dressed in a jester’s outfit – the only link to the show’s title apart from some bunting along the stage – and proceeded to ‘banter’ with the audience. This was slightly awkward, and this was worsened by the fact that the audience only consisted of about fifteen people. I think the jester did a fairly good job – I was in hysterics but potentially because the things that came out of his mouth were just plain bizarre rather than actually funny, like his chicken wrapped in bacon dance. It was mostly improvisation, and he did well not to leave any awkward silences, although I have to say, the bit that made me laugh the most was when he asked my friend if she had any hopes and dreams and she said no.
The sketches themselves then kicked off, all performed by Lewis Charlesworth and Rosie Phillips in a variety of bizarre characters and costumes. The first was a book-signing scene for the Bible. I have to say “God” looked more like a cross between a wizard and a smurf than anything else. The sketch showed promise until God suddenly whipped out a tin-foil knife and stabbed the other character. That’s not a phrase I thought I’d ever say. I think Lewis Charlesworth did a good job of varying his acting throughout: each of his character’s seemed unique, whereas Rosie Phillips didn’t show much variation, though neither did the kind of character she played. The final sketch before the interval was called ‘Sex Therapist’, where the jokes made me feel slightly uncomfortable, and then the “patient” suddenly had a fit because a flower arrangement apparently looked like a vagina…need I say more?
After the interval, we were graced again by the jester trying to encourage audience participation, and I think we were actually warming up. Another three sketches followed. I liked the one about Batman and Catwoman discussing job prospects while she ironed, the whole situation was amusing. The next, ‘Deathbed’, really didn’t work, some of the jokes were quite odd, and the plot was bordering on ridiculous. I have to say, by this point I was getting a little tired of the format, and the last sketch ‘Office Gossip’ livened it up. It was a very relatable situation, so the jokes were funnier. Overall I think it should be a shorter show, which starts on time. The title also needs to be rethought, as there wasn’t really a circus element. Although slightly awkward at times, I did laugh and I’m glad I saw it.